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News 06 Mar 12

'Whistleblowers' Boost Bosnia's War on Graft

The association of whistleblowers, officially founded in Bosnia on Sunday, is vowing to be “a nightmare for every corrupt politician” in the Balkan country.

Elvira Jukic

Bosnia has always had people who reported on corruption and considered themselves as whistleblowers.

Now it has a formal association of whistleblowers, funded on March 4 with help from Steven Kohn, executive director of the US National Whistleblowers Centre.

The aim of the Bosnian association is to rally whistleblowers and support their fight by giving them advice and protection after they go public with documents from the company or institution that they work for.

Kohn, speaking in Sarajevo at the weekend, said Bosnia needs to adopt a law on protecting whistleblowers to encourage people to come forward and report corruption when they spot it in the workplace.

Transparency International in Bosnia, the non-governmental organization that monitors and combats corruption, has received much of its information from whistleblowers and said it welcomed the start of the organisation in the country.

Ivana Korajlic, a member of TI, told Balkan Insight it was necessary to work harder on the protection of people who mustered the courage to report on corruption.

“I think that through associations like this, with a media campaign and by showing some results, people can be encouraged to take part in the fight against corruption in Bosnia,” Korajlic said.

Bosnia is one of the most corrupt countries in Europe, a recent Transparency International report said. Only 11 corruption cases reached final verdicts in the courts in Bosnia last year, for example. In neighbouring Croatia, by contrast, there were 142 such verdicts.

Transparency International says one essential problem is political corruption at the highest levels of government, with political parties blatantly using public companies as cash machines.

In Transparency International's annual report for 2011, Bosnia was ranked between 91st and 94th position among 182 countries, far behind the 27 countries of EU and lower than all former Yugoslav republics.

In that report Slovenia was best placed of the former Yugoslav republics, in 35th position, Croatia was ranked in 66th place, Macedonia 69th and Serbia 86th. Only Kosovo, which was not a fully fledged republic in former Yugoslavia, came below Bosnia, ranked in 112th place.

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